Monday 27 January 2020
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The News - 2 month ago

India?s poor fight desperate battle to find work as slowdown bites

NEW DELHI: The hunt for work becomes more desperate every day on Delhi s street corner labour markets as India s economic slowdown bites deeper, piling pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi just half a year into his second term. With the central bank cutting interest rates five times this year but on Thursday unable to lower them any further because of high inflation patience was running thin at the labour Chowk , or market, in the packed, narrow streets of Old Delhi.Among the hundreds of painters, electricians, carpenters and plumbers who anxiously gather at dawn each day, 55-year-old painter Tehseen has been a regular for three decades. But he is despondent. His monthly income has slumped from about $350 to $140 in the past three years. He is at least still earning. The unemployment rate, currently about 8.5 percent, has hit a four-decade high in the past two years. Tehseen blames government efforts to eradicate the tax-avoiding unofficial economy . A government survey this year estimated that more than 90 percent of the workforce are unofficial . Modi stunned the country in November 2016 by cancelling more than 80 percent of the bank notes in circulation, and the introduction a year later of a nationwide goods and services tax dealt a new blow to business confidence. Last week, official figures showed the economy grew just 4.5 percent in the second quarter, the slowest rate in six years. Modi s rightwing government is struggling to convince the public that it has the answers to the slowdown. Companies have suffered since the note ban, said Tehseen. They do not want to think about getting their offices renovated when they have no business. We have to bear the brunt now.

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